Stan Kenton Alumni Band: Have Band, Will Travel (Live)
Stan Kenton Alumni Band
Have Band, Will Travel (Live)
For over two decades, trumpeter Mike Vax, a veteran of the 1970-72 Stan Kenton Orchestra, has been a tireless crusader maintaining the legacy of his erstwhile boss, who died at age 67 in 1979. Have Band, Will Travel (Live) is the Stan Kenton Alumni Band's fourth recording for the Summit label. It maintains the ensemble's commitment to Kenton not only through music performed by the original band, but also through modern compositions and arrangements which fit comfortably with the Kenton aesthetic. Audio engineer Tom Johnson has brilliantly captured the sound and spirit of this ensemble in his location recordings.
"The New Intermission Riff," Kim Richmond's update of the classic Ray Wetzel swinger which remained in the active Kenton library until the band's demise in 1978, features a clever orchestration of Carl Fontana's trombone solo (alas, edited out of the pioneering stereo version) from the LP Kenton In Hi-Fi (Capitol, 1956), plus Alex Murzyn's tenor sax and Vax's stratospheric trumpet. Richmond (Kenton Class of 1968) returns as alto soloist on his own arrangement of Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation."
Trombonist Dale DeVoe (Kenton Class of 1973) contributes his sensitive setting of the Italian ballad "Softly As I Leave You" , with pianist Liz Sesler-Beckman and the Harmon-muted trumpet of Don Rader sparkling over rich ensemble voicings inspired by the late Dee Barton's chart of "Here's That Rainy Day." Rader and Steve Huffsteter (Kenton Class of 1961) exchange trumpet choruses on the latter's "Joint Tenancy," based on the harmonic changes of "Alone Together." Joel Kaye (Kenton Class of 1963), a protégé of the late composer/arranger Johnny Richards, reveals his mentor's powerful influence in his arrangement of the Johnny Mandel standard "The Shadow of Your Smile," along with his own bass flute, Rader's fluegelhorn and Pete Gallio's tenor.
Austin, Texas-based composer Paul Baker has provided "El Viento Caliente" (The Hot Wind), once again showcasing Murzyn, Vax and Sesler-Beckman, this time in a Latin vein. "Five & Dime," a Hank Levy-inspired original by Rich Woolworth, is an excursion through alternating 5/4 and 10/8 meters, the title of which is a pun on the composer's name as well as the metric scheme. Eric Richards' (no relation to Johnny) "Crescent City Stomp," a tribute to New Orleans (of which Vax was a resident during the 1970s, when he was a member of the Dukes of Dixieland), is highlighted by a Dixie chorus featuring Vax, trombonist and Crescent City native Roy Wiegand (Kenton Class of 1956) and baritone saxophonist Keith Kaminski, plus parade-inspired drumming by Gary Hobbs (Kenton Class of 1977).
From the classic Kenton repertoire comes Lennie Niehaus' swinging interpretation of Jerome Kern's "Long Ago and Far Away," with Kaye this time on baritone, followed by Kaye's adaptation of his mentor's "Artemis & Apollo" from the suite Adventures In Time (Capitol, 1962), spotlighting Rader's fluegel artistry. Gerry Mulligan's "Swing House," which began life as an arrangement of "Rose of the Rio Grande" for Claude Thornhill in 1948 and was updated for Kenton four years later, presents trombonist Scott Whitfield, along with encores by Richmond, Gallio, and Vax (in the respective original solo roles of Frank Rosolino, Lee Konitz, Richie Kamuca, and Conte Candoli). Sesler-Beckman and Rader reprise their solo turns on the Johnny Richards adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's "Tonight" from the Grammy-winning Kenton's West Side Story LP (Capitol, 1961).
Last, but certainly not least, Whitfield and his wife, vocalist Ginger Berglund, pay tribute to another spousal duo, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, with the late Steve Allen's theme "This Could Be the Start of Something Big." The late bandleader/composer/arranger Bob Florence, a onetime pianist for the Kenton Alumni band, originally wrote "Our Garden" as "I'll Remember," a feature for tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb in Florence's own Limited Edition. The Whitfields have added beautiful lyrics to this bossa nova inspired by Erik Satie's "Gymnopédie No. 1."
Tracks: The New Intermission Riff; Softly As I Leave You; El Viento Caliente; Long Ago and Far Away; Artemis & Apollo; Five & Dime; This Could Be the Start of Something Big; Our Garden; Swing House; Tonight; Joint Tenancy; Invitation; The Shadow of Your Smile; Crescent City Stomp; Crescent City Stomp (radio edit).
Personnel: Mike Vax, leader, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Dennis Noday, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Paul Von Adam, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Steve Huffsteter, trumpet, fluegelhorn, arranger; Don Rader, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Roy Wiegand, trombone; Dale DeVoe, trombone, arranger; Scott Whitfield, trombone, vocals, arranger; Kenny Shroyer, bass trombone; Mike Suter, bass trombone, tuba; Kim Richmond, alto sax, soprano sax, flute, arranger; Keith Kaminski, alto sax, baritone sax, flute; Pete Gallio, tenor sax, flute; Alex Murzyn, tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Joel Kaye, baritone sax, bass sax, alto flute, bass flute, arranger; Liz Sesler-Beckman, piano; Chris Symer, bass; Gary Hobbs, drums; Dee Huffsteter, percussion; Ginger Berglund, vocals.